Q&A: Songlink developers turned frustration over sharing music into a popular web app

songlink

With so many different music subscription services floating around, sharing music online is becoming more and more difficult. Instead of just complaining about it, though, Ethan Godt, 25, and his three friends decided to solve the problem.

Godt, along with Kurt Weiberth, Nick Stobie, and David Son, developed Songlink (www.songl.ink), a web app that instantly provides links to songs on various music services. Type in the name, hit “enter,” and you’re suddenly presented with a link to the song on Spotify, Apple Music, Google Music, YouTube, and so on.

The four friends went live with Songlink at the beginning of the year and have watched as music fans and tech publications have embraced its usefulness. I spoke with Godt earlier this week and asked him a few questions about the app. Read our full discussion below:

What gave you the idea for Songlink? How long did it take to complete once you had the idea?

Ethan Godt: The idea for Songlink came out of our frustration for sharing music as subscription services become more ubiquitous. Whether it’s my parents who maxed out at iTunes or my friends who run the gamut of other services, I was frequently unable to share songs that I could imagine them loving.

Kurt was actually the one who suggested that we solve this particular problem, and the four of us kept growing it out. Eventually, we decided to make something that we see as a utility application. You can imagine Songlink as an impartial translator that universalizes things again. We don’t think the inconvenience of sharing songs is best solved by downloading another app that you might stream things through. Instead, we sought out to make something that would connect what’s already there.

Outside of creating the link, Songlink users can simply click on a song link and immediately start listening where they listen to things normally — as if the link came from their service from the beginning.

What has feedback been like so far?

The response when we launched was a lot of fun. We had instant feedback that we had built something people were looking for.

Shortly after we launched, someone with post privileges listed us on the start up site Product Hunt. It’s a very popular place for individuals and new companies to post new products they’ve just completed. Because of this, tech bloggers usually scoop up newly posted products that are gaining traction. A few hours after we were listed, LifeHacker re-published an article about our application. After that, Wired plugged our app and a few smaller sites.

Throughout launch, it was very cool to search Twitter for song links and watch the frequency with which they were being shared ramp up. A few notable software developers complimented us, too. It’s really special to see people I’ll never meet do stuff like “song of the day” with Songlink.

What’s next for Songlink? Are you working on developing any new features?

There are a lot of possibilities, actually. People should be able to share more than just songs. Most immediately ahead for us is adding functionality to share albums and playlists. Sharing albums is low-hanging fruit, but sharing playlists is trickier. We’re working through the best user experience for sharing songs that aren’t cataloged together in any of the services. That said, it seems doable, and we think it would be pretty awesome.

In a very different vein, it’s come to our attention that we have a great opportunity to provide indie labels with data about where people are actually listening to their artist’s songs when a Songlink user selects a service. Smaller labels don’t have the means to do this tracking themselves, and we can provide information about which services to focus their resources on. We also could explore tracking details about who is sharing the songs, and where they’re being listened to. On top of all that, there are dreams for deeper integrations into bigger services. You could imagine Songlink as a default way to share music on a major social network. Even smaller apps like IFTTT, where you basically use pseudocode to automate your life, could use Songlink for sending song links as you favorite a song on Spotify, for instance, or capture something with Shazam.

We’re always actively thinking about how to make Songlink better. Even if our links don’t take over the world, we’re having a hell of a lot of fun with it, and want to make it as effective as possible. We’re very open to feedback. If there is anything anyone wants Songlink to do, they can message us on Twitter at @songlinkapp.

And what’s next for you? Are you working on any other projects?

I recently started working at PayPal in the Bay Area. I’m full stack software engineer there, and it’s been pretty great so far. I am going to be looking for an open source project soon once I get more settled into the new role. If there are readers with any projects, my Github handle is ethangodt. They can find my email and Twitter handle there as well.

Note: From time to time, I want to use Paloozapalooza as a way to chat with people playing interesting roles in the world of pop culture. This was one of those times. Know anyone who may want to talk? Let me know!

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